Defensins are small cysteine-rich peptides with antimicrobial activity. We demonstrate that the alfalfa antifungal peptide (alfAFP) defensin isolated from seeds of Medicago sativa displays strong activity against the agronomically important fungal pathogen Verticillium dahliae. Expression of the alfAFP peptide in transgenic potato plants provides robust resistance in the greenhouse. Importantly, this resistance is maintained under field conditions. There have been no previous demonstrations of a single transgene imparting a disease resistance phenotype that is at least equivalent to those achieved through current practices using fumigants.
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The authors wish to thank Doug Rouse (University of Wisconsin), Mary Powelson (Oregon State University), Jiamin Zeng, Kairong Tiang, Kim Rayford, Judy Heinz, Jerry Anderson, Karen Fitzsimmons, Bonnie Hsiang, Glenda DeBrecht, Tom Salaiz, Jim Zalewski, Stephanie Prinsen, and Marjorie A. Manning for their participation in various aspects of this work.
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